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Taking Off Work when Adopting

The Parents Network > Advice > Adoption > Taking Off Work when Adopting


Related Page: Insurance & Benefits
Does anyone have information about paid and unpaid leave for adoption, including disability leave?. My dept benefits person doesn't know, and I haven't reached anyone in human resources yet. I am not faculty, but have an academic appointment as a specialist. I want to maximize my time off, and want to use disability if I can. I am not even clear on how much paid leave I get off. Am I guaranteed 6 weeks?? thanks.
You are not eligible for disability; childbearing is considered a disability and you're not giving birth. I looked into this extensively when I adopted a child. You can request up to twelve weeks off using vacation leave (but not sick leave) or leave without pay under the Family Medical Leave Act.
To the parent wanting to know what benefits are given adoptive parents, I can only speak from experience at UC-LBNL. I adopted my child 1-1/2 years ago and, after many phone calls discovered we get none, zero, zip. No disability and no leave wit pay, nothing. You are "allowed" to take up to 6 months leave W/OUT pay. You aren't even suppose to use accrued sick leave, although I was mistakingly given it. You are "allowed" to use accrued vacation pay. I even said I thought it was discriminatory. Her answer was, "You aren't disabled and, anyway, what are you trying to do? Take it away from women who really need it? However, I did find out that if your child comes home sick, you can take disability then. Good luck!
If the question came from a UC employee, I can't help. But I am an adoptive parent employed elsewhere. I believe under both California and federal regulations, adoptive parents are eligible for the same amount of leave as biological parents, EXCEPT for the disability leave. Check with your Human Resources department. My employer even waived its rule against carrying over unused vacation time from one year to the next so that I could supplement my leave time, and at least that portion of the leave was paid (unlike the family leave). You should also enquire about health care coverage for your child; it will probably be handled the same as for a biological child. Generally, people are delighted to assist adoptive parents.
Parental leave policies based on disability make an inherent problem for adoptive parents, for whom the child's arrival is not a medical event per se. I don't know what UC's policies are as I am not an employee, but several of us dealt with this at Haverford College in Pennsylvania when I taught there, and convinced the administration that the disability basis for the leave was discriminatory. We were able to get an equitable arrangement (which at Haverford for faculty was one semester leave-in-residence [teaching one course] at full pay or one semester leave at 1/2 pay, choice of the faculty member--quite generous). That was over 10 years ago, and the Family Leave Act has changed the legal landscape. I think it's important get these leaves separated from disability plans. Good luck.
You ask a good question about adoption leave. I looked into all the possibilities when I took time off. At UC adoption leave is leave without pay. Now it is probably covered under FMLA. Since I was not physically pregnant I did not qualify for disability. I use a combination of saved up vacation and leave without pay. HR should have specific guidance. At the Labs (i.e., Berkeley Lab), adoption leave used to be very restrictive (Child had to be under 6 months of age at time of placement to get leave) but with FMLA things are different, thank goodness. I did hear of one employee getting disability for adoption leave but I think that must have been a lucky fluke.
You are not eligible for disability; childbearing is considered a disability and you're not giving birth. I looked into this extensively when I adopted a child. You can request up to twelve weeks off using vacation leave (but not sick leave) or leave without pay under the Family Medical Leave Act.
To get current information about adoption leave policies, I recommend calling One Small Step in San Francisco (one small step at a time toward more family friendly workplaces.) They will know about current legislation. Phone number is (415) 772-4315.
An article in the Sunday Chron addressed this topic of leave (Working Wounded). If your employer has 50+ employees, you are entitled to 6 weeks unpaid family leave. Your return to the same or equal job is guaranteed except if you are one of those highly paid execs. When we adopted, I went on family leave but maintained an advisory relationship (e-mail, phone) I was denied use of sick leave (I wasn't sick) but could use up my vacation if I wished. Hope this helps.
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this page was last updated: May 9, 2004


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